***San Francisco Chronicle publishes ASI letter-to-editor calling for physical activity-based learning for schoolchildren.***
The American Sports Institute is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization (NGO), and cultural and educational center for theory, research, development, and training in sport, physical education, and wellness as personal and social transformative practices.
The vision of the American Sports Institute is to witness the reunification of the body with the mind in individuals and institutions in America and nations around the world. This reunification provides the foundation to transform personal lives and social institutions in ways that enable them to realize their full potential and, thus, find purpose, meaning, fulfillment, and peace.
Our mission to realize this vision includes returning sport to its rightful place of honor in the arts, humanities, and sciences by examining the full spectrum of sport culture, physical education, and wellness through these branches of learning, and by using this examination—in particular, the principles and practices that work in sport, physical education, and wellness—to address personal, social, and international issues.
At the American Sports Institute, we hold sport to be an art, a humanity, and a science that brings forth the human spirit. In so doing, we believe that sport plays a vital role in the evolutionary development of humankind. In this context, we define sport as “a cultural, transcendent, evolutionary process for self-actualization and discovering the Truth through organized physical play and physical re-creation.”
The American Sports Institute’s perspective toward sport is neither new nor unique. The ancient Greeks held sport in a similar context. At the height of the Athenian era in ancient Greece, sport was viewed as a part of the arts, humanities, and sciences, standing equally with such disciplines as philosophy, literature, and civics. Virtue and excellence of body, mind, and spirit were integrated and equally revered through sport. In fact, the Panhellenic games of that era, the forerunner of today’s Olympic Games, included contests in poetry and prose, music and singing, drama and painting, in addition to the athletic events.
However, due to an overemphasis on winning and financial reward, eventually cheating and corruption led to the fall of sport from its place of honor in the arts, humanities, and sciences, and with it, the loss of reverence for the physical domain compared to that of the mental.
This split between the body and mind, the physical and mental domains, constituted one of the most egregious errors ever perpetrated in Western civilization, the long-term effects of which, in part, are wreaking havoc on humanity today through educational stagnation and disengagement, lifestyle-generated chronic diseases, personal and social angst and dysfunction, and environmental pollution and global warming. This has also led to a limited and limiting perception of sport and the physical domain that keeps us from realizing our full potential, and plagues us with a subtle, lingering feeling that something isn’t right. And so, we yearn for something greater—something more purposeful, more meaningful, more fulfilling, more peaceful.
Despite this fall some two and one-half millennia ago, through the ages, the reverence for the physical domain has survived in unique contexts through the works of great historical figures, including Aristotle, John Dewey, Isadora Duncan, Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mohandas Gandhi, Khalil Gibran, William James, Carl Jung, Søren Kierkegaard, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, George Santayana, Henry David Thoreau, Booker T. Washington, and the Renaissance’s Leonard da Vinci who viewed the workings of the human body as an analogy for the workings of the universe.
In modern times, studies have shown that this error in Western civilization is the antithesis of what makes us most human. These studies demonstrate that the body and brain are inextricably linked, and that the more physically active we are, the healthier we are, the more mentally alert and intelligent we are, the more civil we are, and the more at peace we are with ourselves, with others, and the world.
In fact, current and emerging research in neuroscience, evolution, and medicine is validating and explaining in detail what the ancient Greeks knew, what great figures throughout history have known, and what modern studies have proven: Over millions of years of evolution, human beings have been genetically programmed to engage in sustained, high levels of physical activity. When we do, we thrive physically, mentally, and spiritually. When we don’t, we develop what we call dis-ease, dys-function, and de-spair.
What we are realizing anew is that the degree to which a society values the body equally with the mind is the degree to which that society thrives; and the degree to which a society values the mind over the body is the degree to which that society is in a state of dis-ease, dys-function, and de-spair.
At the American Sports Institute, we view sport as a cultural manifestation of the body and the human potential, and as a physical and cultural manifestation of spirituality. We believe that we are never more human than when we are physically engaged, and that being physical in a comprehensive, purposeful way helps open the doors and dissolve the barriers to learning and to personal and social transformation. We believe that sport is not a way out of something debilitating or harmful, but rather, a way into something purposeful, enriching, and meaningful.
At the American Sports Institute, we believe that sport is a way in which the universe plays, and that the stories of our lives, the wisdom of the ages, the mysteries of the universe are played out every day on the athletic landscape of America and all around the world. We believe that the workings, the knowledge, the mysteries of life—of the universe itself—are manifested through the athletic endeavor.
At the American Sports Institute, we believe that, when approached in an appropriate way, sport provides a way to realize our full potential as individuals, to deal constructively with social and international concerns, to expedite the evolutionary process of our species, and, as children of the cosmos, for the universe to experience and be conscious of itself through us.
At the American Sports Institute, we envision a time when sport will return to its rightful place of honor in the arts, humanities, and sciences, and when sport, physical education, and wellness will assume more integral and respected positions in the educational enterprise. For it may well be that sport, physical education, and wellness, when approached in appropriate ways, may provide the best possible path to personal enlightenment and social transformation in this age.
Welcome to the American Sports Institute.
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